Panthers Clawing Their Way To The Top

Image courtesy torontosun.com
Cam Newton is maturing as Carolina's main man. Image courtesy of torontosun.com
The Carolina Panthers have won five on the bounce, but after getting some easy kill at the start of the streak, they finally showed they are the real deal with a 10-9 victory at Candlestick Park over the 49ers last week. They get another massive test this week when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots make their way to Charlotte for the final match-up in Week 11.

The Panthers’ defence has been watertight this season; it has conceded just seven passing touchdowns and it second against the run with opponents averaging just 80 yards per game on the ground. Defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson have 14.5 sacks between them.

The big cats are starting to get some very good production out of their big dog, Cam Newton . The 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick had a difficult sophomore season, but throughout the five-game winning run he has thrown seven touchdown passes, run for three himself, and has been picked off on just three occasions. He has depth to work with in the backfield with a mixture of DeAngelo Williams , Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart working teams over.

Depth is one thing the Patriots don’t really have in their receiving corps. Brady must be thanking his lucky stars tight end Rob Gronkowski finally made his comeback from injury three games back. Since then he has made 18 catches for 284 yards and one TD. Apart from super-quick Danny Amendola , Brady is working with a very inexperienced group. Running back Steven Ridley has six scores in New England’s past four games.

The two-time MVP hasn’t been at his best this season, but the 36-year-old produced a virtuoso performance last start against Pittsburgh in Week 9. He rolled back the years throwing for 432 yards and four TD passes in the 55-31 win.

The Pats are 10-3 coming off a bye week under Bill Belichick and Brady is 13-4 in Monday Night Football games. New England has won three of the five meetings between these teams, including a 32-29 victory in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

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